Home » post » Pt. 3: Non-Lawyer’s Journey through Title 44: Distribution, Costs of Printing and Binding

Our mission

Free Government Information (FGI) is a place for initiating dialogue and building consensus among the various players (libraries, government agencies, non-profit organizations, researchers, journalists, etc.) who have a stake in the preservation of and perpetual free access to government information. FGI promotes free government information through collaboration, education, advocacy and research.

Pt. 3: Non-Lawyer’s Journey through Title 44: Distribution, Costs of Printing and Binding

As I proceed through selected parts of Title 44, I want to keep reminding our audience that I am not a lawyer and that I welcome comments from all, especially those with more experience in interpreting Title 44 than I do.

Before I start today’s entry, I’d like to thank Duane for his comment. I’m still thinking about your e-government question, but I’m glad this series is helping at least some depository librarians become better acquainted with our foundational law.

Today we explore 44 USC 1903, a part of the depository program law that explains where the printed publications for the program come from:



Sec. 1903. Distribution of publications to depositories; notice to Government components; cost of printing and binding

Upon request of the Superintendent of Documents, components of the Government ordering the printing of publications shall either increase or decrease the number of copies of publications furnished for distribution to designated depository libraries and State libraries so that the number of copies delivered to the Superintendent of Documents is equal to the number of libraries on the list. The number thus delivered may not be restricted by any statutory limitation in force on August 9, 1962. Copies of publications furnished the Superintendent of Documents for distribution to designated depository libraries shall
the journals of the Senate and House of Representatives;
all publications, not confidential in character, printed upon the requisition of a congressional committee;
Senate and House public bills and resolutions; and
reports on private bills, concurrent or simple resolutions;

but not so-called cooperative publications which must necessarily be sold in order to be self-sustaining.
The Superintendent of Documents shall currently inform the components of the Government ordering printing of publications as to the number of copies of their publications required for distribution to depository libraries. The cost of printing and binding those publications distributed to depository libraries obtained elsewhere than from the Government Printing Office, shall be borne by components of the Government responsible for their issuance; those requisitioned from the Government Printing Office shall be charged to appropriations provided the Superintendent of Documents for that purpose.

(Pub. L. 90-620, Oct. 22, 1968, 82 Stat. 1283.)

Historical and Revision Notes

Based on 44 U.S. Code, 1964 ed., Sec. 85 (part) (Mar. 1, 1907, ch. 2284, Sec. 4, 34 Stat. 1014; June 25, 1938, ch. 708, 52 Stat. 1206; Aug. 9, 1962, Pub. L. 87-579, Sec. 5, 76 Stat. 354).
The last paragraph of former section 85 will be found in section 1906 of the revision.

Section Referred to in Other Sections

This section is referred to in title 28 section 594. [Daniel’s note – requires Independent Counsels to put reports into Federal Depository Library Program.]

Since this section refers explicitly to tangible publications, our friends who believe in the all-electronic present can be forgiven for thinking that this section of the depository law is on the ash heap of history. NOT! According to the GPO Update given at the Spring 2006 Meeting of the Depository Library Council, “During the first five months of FY 2006 (October 2005-February 2006) GPO distributed a total of 2,779,778 tangible copies of 4,340 titles (this includes print, microfiche, CD’s, DVD’s and maps).” Projecting for a full year, this suggests at least five million tangible copies will be distributed to the nation’s Federal Depository Libraries.

There are three main points I’d like to emphasize about this portion of the law.

First, this represents one of few tools that helps GPO get the cooperation of federal agencies. You’ll notice that if agencies put their requests through GPO, they do not have to pay the cost of printing the depository copies. If production is procured outside GPO, then the agency pays. So, if they do make tangible copies, it is in their financial interest to work with GPO. I think this was a wise move on the part of Congress. The easier it is for agencies to comply, the more likely it is they will.

Second, until such time that Title 44 is amended, GPO has no choice about printing or otherwise producing tangible copies of Congressional publications like the Congressional Record and committee reports.

Third, this is the portion of the law that lets the government get away with NOT depositing certain publications that are produced in part by government agencies. This is the set of publications known as “cooperative publications” and includes titles like World Trade Atlas U.S. State Export Edition and Commercial News USA. Legislation has been proposed in the past to eliminate this exemption, but to no effect thus far. To my mind, this exemption is a carrot for privatization.

That’s all I can think of on this portion of the law. As always comments from lawyers, true Title 44 experts, or anyone else are welcome.

Next time we will focus on Sec. 1904. Classified list of Government publications for selection by depositories. Thanks for reading.

CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.